Crisis on Two Earths vs Planet Hulk
I read something the other day that said something along the lines of ‘DC is winning the straight to animated DVD movie wars with Marvel’. I’d have to say that I agree.
I’m a big fan of animation and I like the odd graphic novel, too. Recently, I picked up Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths and Planet Hulk on blu-ray. These two movies are part of the aforementioned straight to DVD features by DC and Marvel respectively.
It’s worth pointing out, I think, that I am a big fan of the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited animated series. Therefore, Planet Hulk had its work cut out if it was going to overshadow Crisis on Two Earths. Suffice to say, it didn’t.
I hadn’t read either of the graphic novels/story lines the two films were based on, so I was coming into it cold as a pure fan of animation. Both films were enjoyable. I think, on the whole, I’ve really liked the output from both studios but DC is winning hands down with it’s darker approach to both subject matter and animation style. One can’t help but recognise the legacy of Bruce Timm in the often minimalist, clean art approach to the DC movies. Less so in Justice League: The New Frontier but then that was intended to pay homage and echo the original art style in the Darwyn Cooke graphic novel (and still looks amazing, if you ask me). The animation is better, too.
In fact, the only Marvel straight to DVD that I’ve re-watched and really enjoyed was Hulk Vs. More of that please!
But back to the cases in point.
Planet Hulk (unlike its Vs predecessor) lacked the grunt and grit it needed to make it into a classic. If you’re going to tell a story about the Hulk you can’t pull your punches. It should be bloody, it should be dark and violent. This wasn’t. It was Hulk meets Gladiator sans grit. Enjoyable – yes. A classic – not even close. As I mentioned, I hadn’t read the story prior to watching the movie, so went in with zero expectations. The trouble for me was there wasn’t a recognisable villain for the Hulk to go up against. It never really got going, either. Now sure, if the graphic novel is like that then fine. I’d say: choose a different subject for a movie.
By contast Crisis on Two Earths was brilliant. I loved the alternate universes story line and the evil Justice League counterparts. James Woods as Owl Man was a particular favourite. This story felt like it had some substance and a great cast of characters to boot. Like with Hulk, I hadn’t read the source material but felt none the poorer for all that. This ranks alongside Superman: Doomsday and Wonder Woman as one of my favourite DC straight to DVD features. The fact the art style emulated that of the TV series was just a bonus.
I would wholly recommend Crisis on Two Earths. It’s a great story and looks much better than the Marvel offering, too. Looking ahead (as all of these movie features have a preview of the next film in the pipe), it seems like DC are going to trump Marvel yet again. Batman: Under the Red Hood is the next DC feature, a gritty tale that picks up where A Death in the Family leaves off (the story line that deals with the death of Jason Todd as Robin – one of the formative Batman stories) and focuses on Batman’s grief and his encounters with the Red Hood a brutal vigilante stalking the streets of Gotham; whereas Marvel have plumped for Thor: Tales of Asgard (or something like that – I honestly can’t be bothered to look up the title), a kids story that deals with Thor’s younger days before he becomes the awesome ass-kicker he is in the graphic novels.
Seems to me that Marvel are pitching at the wrong audience. Classic tales immortalised in animation is what we fans are looking for, not drab kiddy stories straight out of the aisles of Toys R Us. I’m insulted the Marvel bigwigs think we want to watch this crap. We don’t. At least, I certainly don’t. I won’t be picking up the Thor animated movie. I’ve pre-ordered Under the Red Hood, already though.
Take note Marvel boffins. Sure, your movies on the big screen are starting to kick some ass (I saw Iron Man 2 at the weekend and, while I wasn’t blown away, I did really enjoy it – especially the teasers…) your small screen offerings (with some notable exceptions) are a bit… well, lame.
And if all my talk of DC animated movies has got you fired up, check out this trailer for Batman: Under the Red Hood.